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When in Russia…

MOSCOW: The outside world still portray the Russians as serious and brooding types, but there’s a smile on their faces as they embrace the world citizens from Saint Petersburg to Sochi, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don, Samara and others.

Due to the relatively late involvement of Russia in modern globalisation and tourism, many aspects of their culture like jokes and art remained largely unknown to foreigners.

Language is still a big put off, but broken English works well for the tourists.

Oh yes, gestures also works fine!

And, if you’re smart enough to download the translator applications, you’re one step ahead of the others.

At the metro stations, inside the trains and malls, Russians are willing to help in finding your destination on the Yandex apps or even locate a barber shop.

The World Cup has brought the Russians close to the world. Whether it’s a volunteer at the metro subway or a daily commuter on the busiest stations, everybody is keen to help the tourists. A chunk of world history belong to the Russians — WWI, Bolshevik Revolution, WWII, Communism, KGB, Red Army and Sputnik.

Our knowledge on them are based on theories and assumptions. The outside world has only read them, but to understand or comment on any culture, interaction is important.

If one wants to delve more into their culture or their non-smiling faces, he or she has to strike a conversation with a bus or taxi driver or co-passengers at the bus station.

Language is a barrier, but chances are that you will end up with a Russian, who speaks good English as us.

Perestroika and Glasnost were the two terms that saw the disintegration of the mighty Soviet Union in 1989, but Mikhail Gorbachev still isn’t pardoned by many of his countrymen as they believe he shouldn’t have done what he did 29 years ago.

Russia has been built and rebuilt in the last quarter century, and the country has stood up to the multiple political and diplomatic upheavals despite its breakup.

But the country has made huge strides in terms of development and the FIFA World Cup was one of the biggest steps taken to put Russia on the world map once again.

Take a short city tours to Saint Petersburg and Moscow and you would still wonder why you didn’t visit these beautiful cities before.

Russian’s mastery in architecture is reflected on their metro subways — under the Moscow streets, there’s a whole other world of opulent architecture.

The Moscow Metro, which was opened in 1935, was designed to be one big Soviet propaganda project. It is one of the most beautiful in the world as 44 of the nearly 200 stations are listed as heritage sites.

Some apps-based cab companies are into the market yet the common man prefer the trains thus reposing their faith in one of the world’s best transport system.

No wonder luxurious cars are difficult to find which also gives us an impression that Russians still have a strong faith in leading a simple and austere life.

And yes, the Russians are accommodating and affectionate unlike some European countries.